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Region 7 Public Health Office
Living Healthier Links

Workout @ Work
Eat Better, Move More, Live Longer

Over 60% of all adults in the United States, and in South Carolina, are overweight or obese according to the U.S. Surgeon General and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is an alarming trend since being overweight or obese increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke and arthritis. In this country, 17% of all deaths are related to poor diet and physical inactivity. This is an increase of 33% over the last 10 years.

But there is good news. These statistics can change, we can control our risks. We can eat less and move more, which will help us live longer.

For more information about eating less, moving more or other preventive health information, call us at (843) 549-4524, or contact us.

Moving More
Is your idea of exercise running around in circles, spinning your wheels, dragging your heels, climbing the walls or jumping to conclusions? If it is, then you are like most adults.

Adults today consume an average of 230 more calories per day than they did 20 years ago. Unfortunately, over ½ of all adults in South Carolina don’t get the minimum recommended amount of physical activity in a week, or even in a month to combat this increase in caloric intake. But, something as simple as moderate exercise on most days can reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, and arthritis.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Surgeon General recommends that every person get at least 30 minutes of moderate activity every day, in increments of at least 10 minutes. Moderate activity is considered walking, riding a bike, working in the garden, doing housework, waxing the car, hiking, swimming, or any other activity that gets your heart beating faster.

However, moderate activity is only part of the recommendation. You should also get at least 20 minutes of vigorous activity 3-4 times a week. Vigorous activities include power walking, jogging, running, and cycling just to name a few.

To move more really does not require a drastic change in your life, just some small ones. You can, of course, join a health club. But, if that is not for you, here are some other ideas to get you on your way to moving more:

  • On your lunch break, take a brisk walk.
  • Do you have children playing sports? Instead of sitting and watching them, walk up and down the sidelines as they play.
  • Take your dog for walks, you will both benefit.
  • Park your car at the farthest point in the parking lot and walk to the store or office.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Walk to someone’s office when you need to talk to them instead of calling on the phone
  • Spend a lot of time on the phone? Stand up and do toe lifts while on hold.
  • Team up with co-workers for walks and to help keep each other motivated.
  • Schedule time for physical activity and treat it as you would any other important appointment
  • Start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and length of time. Once you become comfortable at your level of activity, you will need to increase the intensity and time spent on the activity. It is better to do some physical activity every day. Don’t be just a “weekend warrior” since that can lead to more aches and pains and injuries. Remember, have fun, don’t view physical activity as a chore. It will actually help you feel better.

A physical activity program is made up of three parts: cardiovascular, strength training and flexibility. Cardiovascular exercise is what works your heart. Everyone needs at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous cardiovascular exercise every day, activities like walking, jogging, swimming, riding a bike, doing yard work. In addition to cardiovascular activity, we all need to include some strength training in our physical activity program. Do at least 4 to 6 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions 2 to 3 times a week. Strength training improves your muscle tone and assists in the prevention of the bone deteriorating disease osteoporosis. Flexibility is important because it helps increase joint mobility and resist muscle injury. You should do at least 10 to 30 minutes of stretching 2 to 5 days a week.

More Tips for a Healthier Lifestyle
Now that you’re moving more, what else can you do to get healthier? Here are some tips that might help you live healthier, and longer:

  • Eat less and eat better.
  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water every day.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Don’t drink alcohol to excess or take illegal drugs.
  • If you are on medication for high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol or other chronic condition, take your medicine as prescribed by your healthcare provider.

For Employers
A report from the Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, January, 2003, estimated the employers cost for treating health conditions at $3,524 per employee. And those employees that cost your business the most are those who have less healthy lifestyles. These are typically the employees who have low levels of physical activity, consume unhealthy diets, and smoke.

Most people employed full time spend at least a third of their waking hours at their job. Unfortunately, during their leisure time almost 64% of employed adults do not meet the minimum physical activity recommendations. At the same time, it is in your best interest, and the best interest of every company, to maintain a healthy staff. Of the billions of dollars spent on medical services, by non-government businesses, 60% goes to the purchase health insurance, with no end in sight for the continued increase in costs. Much of this money is being used to treat conditions that are preventable. Add to that the inconvenience that on any given day 3% - 6% of your staff is absent.

There are ways you can help your employees reduce their risk of disease, without spending a lot of money. Some ideas are:

  • Encourage stretching and exercising during work breaks. Set a good example and participate too.
  • Have employees keep a log of their physical activity levels and hold a contest among them. Reward those for the most time logged.
  • Encourage your staff to use the stairs.
  • Encourage your staff to park their cars further away and walk to the building.
  • Provide free wellness and fitness information.
  • Send out encouragement e-mails to your staff.
  • If you are a small company, join with other small companies to arrange for joint health screenings or have a health professional to come and talk about health and wellness with employees, or have a health and wellness competition between companies.
  • Instead of giving employees another shirt give them pedometers or jump ropes as incentives.
  • Try standing meetings, you might find that you actually have shorter and more efficient meetings.

More Office Exercises
Here are some more ideas to help you with your strength training and flexibility

Tricep Extension: Using a light grip, hold onto a full water bottle in your hand with your arm extended and held at a 45-degree angle behind your head. Bend your elbow and forearm until it is hung straight behind your head. Be sure to keep your elbows in place. When you reach the bottom of the movement, extend your arm at the elbow until it is fully extended. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat. Make sure you do an equal number of repetitions for each arm.

Overhead Press: Hold a full water bottle in each hand. Bend your elbows and hold them at shoulder height. Straighten your elbows until your hands are extended overhead. Bend elbows back to shoulder height and repeat.

Bicep Curl: Hold a full water bottle in one hand and bend your elbow so your lower arm goes toward your shoulder. Repeat with other hand. This exercise can be done either seated or standing straight.

Side Leg Lift: Standing and holding a non-rolling chair for balance, bring your right leg out to the side to approximately a 45 degree angle. Hold for a count of 5, and return to starting position. Switch to the left leg and repeat. Perform 5 times with each leg.